Friday, March 21, 2014

Reduce, Reuse

There has been a big change for the better around here!  When we returned from Montana there was a bright green and yellow recycling dumpster next to our regular one! There has been talk of single sort recycling in this city for a long time and originally it was supposed to start in the fall so I didn't know when it would actually happen but it is finally here! 

I am still really happy about this.  I was reading the details on the internet so I could figure out exactly what could go in the recycling mix and I read a newspaper article that said that 20% of residents opted out of the service (which costs $3.17 per month).  What?  Who would do that?  It is so easy.  You don't even have to sort it.  There was a single sort dumpster at my old apartment at UND so I had to carry the recycling can out a few times a week to dump it and I thought that was easy. 

There has always been the option to recycle here but you had to drive to a receptacle.  In our old neighborhood it was a few blocks away and now I think there is one equally close.  The only time we recycled anything was when we had a lot of cardboard boxes to get rid of.  Ever since learning about how long it takes for certain materials to decompose in nature during the fossil fuels unit in elementary school science (for plastic and glass, as you probably know, the answer is never) I have felt uncomfortable just tossing those things.  I saw it in action since the woods behind the farm where I grew up were historically one large dump.  There is the current dump, which hasn't been used in years but we did throw cans and glass back there when I was a kid and there were many more that were dug, filled, and buried through the years.  A walk through the woods will yield shards of glass, old cans, and lots of other treasures if you just look down.  When my parents started building a new house last June, the excavators made a pile of glass bottles and jars, still intact, that they found in the dirt.  They said that when the shovel dug into the ground they could hear glass crunching and shattering.  I looked up the brand on an old cosmetics jar that I found (Melba, it was) and discovered that Melba hasn't been made since 1931.  There were also many little white mentholatum (Vick's Vapor Rub) jars.  The family that lived there sure must have been majorly congested!   

That expanse of dirt was once a family garbage dump! This was a very common farm practice in the "old days" and kind of contradicts the way farm life is depicted as a wholesome, clean, organic way of life.  Here's some empty jars!  Toss 'em in the woods!  Broken dish? Toss it in the trees!

So, anyway I hate throwing away glass and plastic into the landfill.  Especially troubling are laundry detergent jugs and cat litter buckets.  And diapers, but that's a whole other category. I love seeing how fast that recycling can fills up although it is kind of annoying how the regular garbage can is now more like a steaming compost heap of used tea bags and table scraps that has to be taken out before the bag is even full because it is so gross.  I have no doubt that this new policy will make a big difference at the land fill. 

Now...if only there was a solution for the diaper issue that didn't involve me hosing of cloth diaper inserts in the toilet and having all the women with babies smelling like bleach for their baby having years like my mom remembers from her childhood.  I was reading an article about cloth diapers and it said that human waste is actually not allowed in landfills because it is a hazard but diapers and female products slide by as a "necessary evil".  Hmmm that is unsettling to be contributing to such a problem.  But at least now I can recycle!

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